Dog Has a Swollen Belly (cont.)

What to Do

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your dog uncomfortable? If your dog appears to be absolutely unaware of her increased girth, it is unlikely to be anything other than the aforementioned dietary indiscretion that has caused it. Watch and wait but be sure to keep her away from any source of food for at least twelve hours. If, on the other hand, she is weak and listless or making attempts at vomiting, immediately try to evaluate her predicament. In some instances a dog that has recently suffered some form of blunt trauma, such as being hit by a car or a baseball bat, will exhibit a swollen and tender abdomen. If you pay strict attention to your dog's behavior and conduct a safe, level-headed evaluation, you will be able to determine how serious the problem is and whether immediate action is necessary.
  • What breed is your dog? Large, deep-chested dogs - such as Great Danes, greyhounds, and German shepherds - are more prone to developing a life-threatening form of abdominal distension known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). While an exact cause is not currently known, it appears to happen more frequently in dogs that are fed one large meal per day or have recently endured some trauma or stress, such as surgery or long distance transport. If your exam reveals a drum-tight abdomen and ghost-white gums, head directly to a veterinary emergency facility. Dogs with GDV that are not treated within a small window of time often die as a result.
  • Is your dog panting rapidly? Dogs that are uncomfortable will often breathe rapidly, particularly if they have just gorged themselves to the point of distension. This behavior may also be a prelude to a vomiting episode. If the gums are pink and healthy, you can watch and wait for a short while to see what develops. If failed attempts at vomiting occur and your dog appears to be getting worse, get him right to the veterinarian.